Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush | 108 minutes | animation, action, adventure, comedy, family | Original voice cast: Idris Elba, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman. Alan Tudyk, JK Simmons, Jenny Slate, Bonnie Hunt, Katie Lowes, Shakira, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, Octavia Spencer, John DiMaggio, Tommy Chong, Nate Torrence, Maurice LaMarche, Mark Rhino Smith, Raymond S. Persi, Jesse Corti, Don Lake, John Lavelle, Peter Mansbridge, Della Saba | Dutch voice cast: Leonoor Koster, Alexander de Bruijn, Simon Zwiers, Jeske van de Staak, Jelle Amersfoort, Hilke Bierman-van Aken, Finn Poncin, Tygo Gernandt
Animals that behave like people, we already saw it in Disney’s version of ‘Robin Hood’ from 1970. Filmmaker Byron Howard, known as co-director of the animated films’ Bolt ‘(2008) and’ Rapunzel ‘(or’ Tangled ‘, 2010), had dreamed of reviving such a concept for years. And so he came up with a modern city that looks like animals invented and designed him. When Howard took his concept to Disney / Pixar boss John Lasseter, he reportedly lifted him into the air, as Simba’s father did with his newborn son in ‘The Lion King’ (1994). Howard got to work with his idea and got Rich Moore (known from ‘Wreck-it Ralph’, 2013) next to him in the director’s chair. A large team of artists and researchers studied all kinds of different animals in Disney’s own Animal Kingdom (a large animal park in Florida) and on the savannas in Kenya. Every effort was made to recreate the movements, hairs or feathers and other characteristics of the inhabitants of ‘Zootropolis’ (or ‘Zootopia’, as the film is called in the United States) as detailed and true as possible. Jared Bush, who creatively directed the production of the acclaimed ‘Big Hero 6’ (2014), was hired as a screenwriter and assisted Howard and Moore in directing it. as the film is called in the United States) in as detailed and truthful as possible. Jared Bush, who creatively directed the production of the acclaimed ‘Big Hero 6’ (2014), was hired as a screenwriter and assisted Howard and Moore in directing it. as the film is called in the United States) in as detailed and truthful as possible. Jared Bush, who creatively directed the production of the acclaimed ‘Big Hero 6’ (2014), was hired as a screenwriter and assisted Howard and Moore in directing it.
‘Zootropolis’ plays with the expectations we have for certain animal species. Rabbits are fearful, foxes are cunning and unreliable, sloths are slow, and sheep are tame and defenseless. But is that really so? In this film the opposite is regularly proven. The heroine of ‘Zootropolis’ is Bunny Hopp (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin), a bunny who dreams of making a career in the criminal investigation department. Contrary to the advice of her parents – who do meet the stereotype – she reports to the police school, where she passes with flying colors. But when she reports to the main office in the big city (Zootropolis), hoping to be allowed to participate in the mysterious case of a missing otter, she is fobbed off with a job as a parking officer. Determined to prove herself, she does this job with full dedication. But then she comes across the crafty fox Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), a con man but not exactly ‘a big fish’. Can Nick be trusted or not? Meanwhile, more and more predators are mysteriously disappearing. When she becomes entangled in a conspiracy theory herself, Bunny sees no choice but to partner with her nemesis, the fox Nick.
‘Zootropolis’ has a fun approach and knows the familiar Disney themes (‘chase your dreams’, ‘friendship can be found in the most unexpected corners’, ‘you are never too small or too young to assert yourself’) can be smoothly combined with current themes such as diversity in society, the fear of being oppressed and the role that politics, the media and criminal leaders play in this. That sounds pretty heavy for an animation film, but this underlying layer lies under a heavy load of visual and textual jokes, funny finds (Apple has been replaced here by a carrot, including logo with a bite out) and hilarious characters (in the obese cheetah at headquarters anyone who has ever seen an American police series will recognize the gorged veteran with his inseparable donut…). In addition to the voices of Goodwin and Bateman, we hear Idris Elba, JK Simmons, Nate Torrence, Octavia Spencer, Bonnie Hunt and Jenny Slate, among others. A nice cast full of pedigree actors who can give their character that little bit extra. Pop star Shakira speaks the voice of a gazelle and sings ‘Try Everything’, but to be honest, we prefer to hear Michael Giacchino’s score. The animations are, as we are used to from Disney, of an impressive level, especially the fine eye for detail.
With ‘Zootropolis’ Disney has again delivered a fine example. Whether the film will score just as much at the box office as, say, ‘Frozen’ (2013), remains to be seen. The bunny Bunny Hopp is cute but lacks the appeal that the two ice princesses Anna and Elsa have. But where ‘Frozen’ mainly attracted girls (and ‘Cars’ (2006) especially boys), ‘Zootropolis’ with its universal themes and appearance will appeal to both girls and boys. And the parents can just go to the cinema, because ‘Zootropolis’ has plenty of hilarious finds and jokes with a wink.
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